FILM REVIEW: Taken 2 (12A)

You’re never too old in Hollywood for a big screen renaissance.

John Travolta’s 40th birthday was very happy indeed - he celebrated an Oscar nomination for Pulp Fiction.

At the tender age of 56, striking Irish actor Liam Neeson unexpectedly reinvigorated his career as a tough-taking action man in the testosterone-fuelled thriller Taken.

The film, directed by Pierre Morel, gained a cult following for its wanton brutality, outrageous set pieces and the unstinting determination of the lead character, who famously promised kidnappers holding his daughter: “I will find you, and I will kill you.”

True to his word, former CIA field operative Bryan Mills punched, kicked and shot every bad guy within a 10-mile radius of Paris.

The old man with the fists of fury returns in Taken 2, which dispatches the same characters to Istanbul for another explosive game of cat and mouse.

Olivier Megaton sits in the director’s chair for the sequel and he delivers more slam-bang thrills than the first instalment, embracing the preposterousness of a centrepiece car sequence which sees the hero’s daughter, who has failed her driving test, perform high-speed manoeuvres through the winding streets of the bustling Turkish metropolis.

A glittering career beckons as a movie stunt woman.

Bryan (Neeson) continues to be protective of his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), who he rescued from Albanian kidnappers and returned home safely to her mother Lenore (Famke Janssen).

He’s less than thrilled to discover Kim has a boyfriend (Luke Grimes) but promises Lenore that he won’t run a background check.

When Lenore’s current partner storms out, Bryan suggests that his ex-wife and daughter join him in Turkey for a few days of sight-seeing and relaxation.

Little does the former agent realise that Murad (Rade Serbedzija), the father of one of the Albanian brutes he killed in the first film, has amassed a small army to abduct and torture Bryan and his loved ones.

“We will not rest until his blood flows into this very ground. We will have our revenge!” Murad defiantly tells his compatriots.

Taken 2 is a blast that doesn’t take itself seriously, from the protracted set-up about Kim’s inability to parallel park to her transformation into a gun-toting chip off the old block.

“Try to blend in!” Bryan tells his daughter to hoots of derision as she races across rooftops, tossing grenades hither and thither without any consideration for the safety of passing tourists.

Neeson growls his lines with suitable menace, physically suffering for his low-brow art as he is beaten to a bloody pulp while protecting his loved ones.

Janssen is the token two-dimensional love interest and Grace embraces the madness, clumsily fanning the flames of a possible romantic reunion between her parents by telling Bryan: “When you guys met, I think the word she used was... magical!”

Give me strength.

By Damon Smith

:: SWEARING :: NO SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 6/10

Released: October 4 (UK & Ireland), 90 mins